Concerning The Practice Of Christian Science
( Originally Published 1921 )
MRS. EDDY clearly indicates that Christian Science practice should be improved, not only in the way of results, but also in the way of processes, or modus operandi.
The progressive practitioner will naturally learn to give treatments on a higher plane. He, himself, will be in a higher altitude of appreciation and discernment. He will more clearly perceive the nature of error, and be more correctly discriminating in his estimate of it and its claims, and particularly concerning its claims of good, or its claim to be in some respects relatively good. He will learn to be less personal in his estimate of error and will gradually grow in the perception that he does not have to deal with person, but with belief, which is always without a believer,—always without person.
As he gains a better sense of pure metaphysics, the entire trend of his thought changes, and the whole aspect of his work, and of the work to be done, takes on different form. He finds that he must work differently—that he must move higher or farther along—that he must graduate from former methods which will appear to be inadequate. Mrs. Eddy covers this ground specifically in a recent ad-monition to pay more attention to her teaching of to-day than to that of twenty-five years ago. Her changes in the textbook show that she is trying to advance the thought of Scientists, so that they may keep pace with the progress she is making—and that the public mind may accustom itself to a more correct theology. She has been obliged to make many concessions to current religious thought, rather than to upheave it too violently, but it cannot be doubted that she hopes that we will push forward to the appreciation of higher statements. She at-tempts to reach many different stages of thought through "Science and Health," but it seems to be sensible to assume that we will not do well to cling to the lower plane of statement or appreciation that has in many instances been presented for the beginner. It has long been recognized that Science re-verses old methods. It discloses the fact that the way of salvation is different from that prescribed by old theology.
I shall refer to some of the important differences and thereby show why some of us fail to procure the desired results through our practice. The old theological plan of salvation included the continuous refrain that we must give up all for Christ—that our lives should be a process of renunciation, and of giving up everything that is in sight. The result of this kind of inducement has been that people have begun a prodigious onslaught of the human will against everything included in the environment of human life; but this sort of struggle generally results in a destructive career. It seems clear that the advanced Scientist needs to change his standpoint of thinking. He needs to stop the many declarations about "giving up" and to cease the effort to progress by means of a "giving up" process.
The actual service which Christian Science exerts in our behalf is a purely educational one. Our deliverance from the belief of evil is to be accomplished, not by giving up, but by gaining. The statement "Seek ye first the kingdom of God" is scientifically and literally correct, that is to say : the one to whom Christian Science is becoming substantive, needs to seek or desire the right idea about everything because the right idea silences the false concept or belief.
I am convinced that many scientists procrastinate their own deliverance by working at the wrong end of the problem. The Bible says that "The government shall be upon his shoulders," meaning thereby that the right idea does the work—asserts itself and conversely disposes of the belief. It is certain that an erring belief does not know enough to give itself up. It is also certain that an erring state of human consciousness does not know enough to give itself up. It follows, therefore, that a purely human giving up endeavor does not give up, but does involve the scientist in a sense of greater fear. Evil is never disposed of as though it were something. It cannot be given up as though it were something. It can only be disposed of by the activity of right ideas which resolve the evil claim or temptation as though it were nothing. I recommend to you the great value of an affirmative condition of thought at this point. Try to realize that through Christian Science, you are constantly gaining that which will do every-thing for you, and that you will succeed according to the gaining process. This will open your mentality and make it more receptive of the right idea—whereas a contrary policy of thought, which is ever contemplating a process of giving up, narrows its own scope and curtails the capacity to acquire the true idea of salvation.
It is, of course, true that all forms of erring belief are to disappear and that the so-called human consciousness is to be divested of all that claims to be something as error or sin, but all this is to be accomplished by the influx of pure knowledge or a correct estimate or appreciation of being.
There is another incorrect thought in line with this same thing. It is in the declaration that mortals must suffer out of the flesh. Now, inasmuch as there is no flesh, and man is not in flesh and never was in the flesh, it follows that the thought that we must suffer out of the flesh would admit all that is claimed for the flesh. If we really are in the flesh, we would better stay there, because if we are actually in it, we belong in it and cannot get out by suffering or otherwise. If we are not in the flesh, we have not got to suffer out of it.
The supposition that we are in the flesh is merely a belief. We are not to get rid of the flesh, but of the belief that we are in the flesh and that life and body are material. The poorest way to get rid of that belief is to suppose there is any virtue in applying suffering as a remedy, or to suppose erring belief can be corrected by another equally erroneous be-lief called suffering.
It is plain that the thought, which is poised at the expectation of suffering out of the flesh, is being greatly hindered and arrested. Such an expectation is wholly irrational and destructive. The only way out of the flesh is the way which dispels the belief that substance and man are material. The only thing which will do this is the understanding that body is spiritual—suffering cannot do it and is not the way to do it. All this is absolutely correct notwithstanding the claim that a material and erring sense of life seems to punish itself; but suffering, which seems to be the way whereby to get into trouble, is not the way out of it.
Another bad fault has grown out of our old theological belief of condemnation and penalty, and the belief that God devises, institutes, and bestows the punishment that is incidental to condemnation. The fact is that the divine Mind knows no evil and does not know that any one is perpetrating any evil. The supposition that God condemns and punishes sin and other forms of error would, if it were possible, involve God in evil and would confirm every claim concerning the reality of evil. Such assertions as these are frequently met by the averments that God is not evil, but that He knows enough about it to punish it, and the result has been that the ordinary religious belief has been to the effect that penalty and punishment have been of divine bestowal and are therefore indispensable concomitants of the divine plan. By thus making a connection between God, and penalty and suffering, mankind has involved itself in terror, and in fear of a vengeful and wrathful God. This fear constitutes a continuing belief of causation and induces the belief of disease and other evils.
Science discloses the fact that in belief, mortal mind creates a mortal man for the purpose of killing him. Before killing him, it condemns and sentences him. It is this condemnation of man that I want you to recognize, and I want you to know the necessity of cancelling it and of adequately protecting your-selves and your patients from it. It is more important than we have been in the habit of thinking it is.
In order to show to what extent false theology has involved itself in the condemnation of man, I quote one statement, namely "The wages of sin is death."
We know that everything that is called sin is but a manifestation of mortal mind. We know that everything that is called matter is a manifestation of mortal mind; indeed, we know that every kind of materiality or corporeality belongs in the unit or unification called mortal mind. For a man to breathe, steal, sleep, to lie, or eat food, or to believe that two times two is five, all these are manifestations of the one error. God knows nothing of any of them. All that is included in them is error—all the laws, decrees, penalties, threats, and predictions have been devised and put forth by mortal mind.
If it were true that the only legitimate wage of the one error is death, then it would be the fact that Christian Science practice is illegitimate. It would mean that the man who breathes and eats food is entitled to death and that the only proper thing to do to him would be to procure his death. If you will analyze this subject thoroughly, you will find that what is called theology, philosophy, and physical science, instead of uncovering the error that is involved, have formulated the condemnation, not of error—including breathing, but the condemnation of the man who breathes. Throughout the ages of religious beliefs, you may find that it is the man who must be punished and who must die.
You may discover that every man and woman is under the rule of a supposedly divine, universal, theological, philosophical, scientific, and self damnation, and that this universal condemnation is one of the most important things for you to recognize and annul in every claim or patient you have. It must be clear that there is no God in it and that as a rule and law of mortal mind it is always wrong.
The only thing that God does for humanity or needs to do, is to bless mankind; and it is blessing, correction or enlightenment, and salvation that we really need, not punishment.
First of all, then, remember always that suffering is never procured by God as a penalty or con-sequence or as an educational process for any purpose whatever. Then remember that the entire net work of materiality, sin, sickness, pleasure, or death, is the output of mortal mind, which is always wrong. Then know that the supreme need of humanity is not of suffering, but of enlightenment and that it is entitled to enlightenment.
Cease forever the declarations like this: "Well, I suppose I must suffer out of it" and "the patient must suffer out of it." Is there any curative efficacy in a treatment which includes the mental provision that the patient must suffer for any reason? The mission of Christian Science is to deliver, to save, to redeem. It has no punishment and no condemnation for a mortal man. Inasmuch as mortals are defrauded and imposed upon by mortal mind, it follows that the worst sinner is the greatest victim and that what he needs and is entitled to is instant salvation instead of eternal punishment.
Many scientists have a bad habit of holding their patients under the ban of condemnation, thereby frustrating a cure; whereas nothing but righteous judgment will heal the sick.
The wages of sin or materiality is not the death of a mortal. That is to say, the natural and inevitable consequence of being imposed upon is not death —such a provision would not be even ethical. The only proper sequence of sin or error is salvation or deliverance through the activity of real knowledge. Watch carefully against the disposition to join in the universal condemnation of mortals.
Christian Science operates wholly to release the victim, not to condemn him; and this is done by condemning the error, but not the man; and error must always be condemned as nothing, not as something. You need to beware of the Bible references which are made to appear as though they condemned man instead of error. No such conclusion concerning the Bible is correct. You are never warranted in condemning a mortal; never warranted in condemning yourself. Truth uncovers error as nothing; it does not condemn the man or require the suffering which error alone bestows on mortals.
Some time ago, I rescued a patient, a scientist who had had much treatment, by knowing that she was not under penalty because of a belief in matter—or because of a belief that she was a woman with a material body, or that she was a mother. That she was not under penalty for the infraction of any law of error or for anything that she ever did or did not do. That she was not under penalty according to any rule or belief of mortal mind, and that there was no penalty, consequence, or suffering in mortal mind. This treatment, which knew enough to know that the penalty was unreal, knew enough to make an unreality of suffering and she recovered.
One of the worst phases of human philosophy is its limited sense of opportunity. Christian Science practice is greatly obstructed by the belief of limited opportunity. The patient is very apt to think that his chance of recovery has passed and that it is too late to win. All kinds of people give up because of the claim of limited opportunity. The practitioner very frequently voices the claim and fails to expect results because of the feeling that there is a lack of opportunity. Opportunity is infinite and is ever present. As a matter of fact, man exists at the standpoint of opportunity. Man is simply a condition of receptivity. It is his business to receive, constantly and perpetually. He is to show forth the abundance of infinity. This being the case, the opportunity to manifest perfection is not only ever present, but is really a part of himself. It would not be far fetched to say that man and opportunity are one. The law of opportunity enforces its continuance and availability—and conversely it breaks down and arrests the supposed mortal law which claims to limit opportunity.
It is not sufficient merely to declare that Mind is unlimited and, therefore, that there is no limitation. You must take this claim up specifically and declare for opportunity frequently until your own thought is familiar with the expectation of opportunity.
Remember there is nothing in a treatment other than that which is in it as specific thought, and that your patient has no more opportunity to recover than mortal mind concedes unless your treatment provides infinite opportunity. As soon as you really grasp this, you will see how deficient your treatments have been in the matter of expectation or true faith, and you will see why sometimes you have failed and you will realize that you have made a great gain and improved your work by getting the true idea of opportunity. Principle, law, power, and opportunity are all that is needed in order to move mountains.
Do not forget to make the most of this idea in behalf of the sick or in matters of business and employment and in all the details of daily experience and activity. You will see that the right idea of opportunity is the open door of receptivity.
What is called the body is a false belief about body and is not reality. This disclosure does not warrant us in hating it or condemning it or denouncing it as though it were a monster to be abhorred. There is neither wisdom nor humility in calling it "this vile body" or a "base body" or in disposing of any other disagreeable and libelous remarks about it. True, it represents a misconception, but there is no use in damning it or reviling it or in uttering any disrespectful remark or thought about it. Since it is a belief, the thing to do is to improve the belief.
Christian Science healing would not be sanctioned or attested by facts, if it were not that such healing indicates itself in improved beliefs concerning body. There is no body that is to be destroyed, mutilated, or decapitated by Christian Science progress. Because Christian Science practice brings into evidence an improved bodily condition or estate, that fact ought to carry the assurance that we need not condemn body.
As a step in progress, we are to show forth a better bodily condition, and this will not be accomplished by mentally excoriating that which now seems to be the body. There is one perfect spiritual body. An erroneous belief of body must be corrected or rather displaced by the right sense of body. There is no place in which suffering may not be dispensed with, because it does not enlighten or reinforce the idea which is already correct and which alone can efface with its calm assertiveness every and any claim of error.
This analysis leads to the conclusion that as the scientist progresses, he will find that humanity, and even what is called the human body, will appear with ever growing kindliness of aspect.
It is a scientific statement to declare that man exists at the standpoint of body, nay is body. It follows that body is as sacred as Mind. It also follows that there can be no legitimate denunciation of body. Nothing is legitimate but to supersede a wrong sense of it. Many Scientists seem to be afraid to declare properly concerning body. Some will do nothing but to declare the facts about God and religiously refuse to declare the truth about man and body. This perhaps grows out of the failure to realize that the truth about God is man,—is body. Man and body constitute the evidence that there is God. Man shows forth and is an exhibition of God, and man is body. This being the case, there is the utmost propriety in declaring the truth about man and body and in becoming most familiar with the facts as to man and body. I do not hesitate to urge you to declare constantly, or perhaps I should say frequently, the truth about body in order that the spiritual idea of body may silence and displace the material concept.
Disease is a specific error about body, and a specific idea is necessary to correct or dispel it. Mind and ideas constitute the whole of being. Ideas constitute the body or embodiment of Mind. Hence there is one infinite Mind and that Mind is our Mind. There is one infinity of body and that body is our body. Body is the infinite manifestation of Mind. All the things of body are eternal, complete, perfect, and perpetually active as ideas. The law of Mind to body is the law of harmonious perpetual action. Body will always be body. It cannot fail or be sick or change. It is the manifestation of vigor, vitality, strength, power, force, and perfect impulsion, and the divine law unto it is the law of strength and normal action.
In your treatment, if the only sense of body is the right one, then there is no body that is sick or can be sick. Moreover the right sense of body enables you to put out the belief that body is a private body of a man or woman, and is one that can be sick or contains place or substance that can be sick.
Still further, it may be seen that if you were in belief of sickness because of mental malpractice, the mere knowing of one body would be sufficient to break the claim because malpractice could not act where there was no belief of a material private body.
I have many times heard such remarks as "I wish I could," or "I will be glad when I can get rid of this body,"—but that line of thought will never solve the problem.
I have known people who had mesmerized them-selves into a state of hatred of their bodies and who seemed to think that they might hate their bodies sufficiently to get rid of them and become clad in spirituality. I do not think there is any likelihood that you will imagine that I am pleading with you to make any sort of admission that the material concept called body is real or to be eternal, but I do want to impress you with the necessity of not mentally sandbagging or abusing or slandering what seems to be your body or any part of it.
As against the statement frequently made by Scientists, "Well, I suppose we must all pass the belief of death in order to get rid of this material body," we are warranted in saying that there is no "this material body" to get rid of. This very statement so often made by Scientists is a death sentence in itself. Moreover a mortal cannot die out of the belief that body is material. He has got to live out of it. There is no way out of the belief of death, but to live. In order to get the body that manifests life, we must begin to declare for it, and gradually and rapidly come into our own, namely, the eternal body. In your treatment of the sick, be sure to declare the facts about body.
Some of the physicians show a more correct sense of body than do some Christian Scientists. Dr. W.
A. Hammond, former Surgeon General of the United States, has said recently that there is no physiological reason why the body of a human being should die. He refers to the capacity of the body to renew its tissues and to continue its functions and says this would go on indefinitely if it were not that the eliminating process becomes defective.
That which most disturbs the integrity of elimination is anger, fear, and other similar improprieties. If a human being were so poised spiritually as to have the dominion which even a human being should show, he might govern elimination in perfect equipoise. Very many of the so-called physical disorders are because of the belief of deficient elimination, and this is what Dr. Hammond acknowledges in his statement, and this in a way confirms the contention made by Christian Scientists to the effect that disease is an impropriety or disorder and that the proper healing process is one of elimination—the expulsion of the false belief.
In the case of the human body, elimination goes on through the skin, bowels, kidneys, and the breathing. The claim is that when this process is not complete or perfect, there is a retention of impurities. Hence the necessity of handling this claim for every patient.
A treatment to cover this claim must declare that Mind is the law of elimination to the belief of deficient elimination and to the belief of abnormal retention or secretion, or the belief of morbific sub-stance or animal poison. The claim of deficient elimination is an avenue for the claim of malpractice. It has been declared by medical thought, that Christian Scientists disdain all care of the body and all exercise and hygienic precaution or measures and will, therefore, show the consequence of bodily inactivity by means of incomplete elimination.
This leads me to say something which I hope you will not misunderstand or misconstrue. We are yet in what I call a transitional stage, but there never will be a time when bodily activity will not be proper. Scientifically considered, the body is manifested through action or inaction. A natural freedom and dominion on a human plane may well manifest itself in a normal bodily activity.
The Scientist is liable through misapprehension to try to take a position by force which has not been gained through demonstration. I suggest to you, not a recourse to the ordinary forms of exercise that are indulged in for the cure of sickness, but that you remember that there is no advantage in an unsymmetrical growth whereby a person becomes physically one-sided. We are yet where we may take some pains to breathe what is called pure air and to drink pure water and eat what is regarded as wholesome food; to be temperate and moderate, and to realize that it is more temperate to manifest a reasonable amount of physical activity than it is to sit around in a house all the time in a condition of bodily inactivity or stagnation.
I do not think a practitioner is doing the best that can be done, who sits in the house all the time treating the sick without free air or free activity, unless he can demonstrate perfect nutrition and elimination according to the law of Mind. In the same sense that Mary did well to protect Jesus by taking him into Egypt, it may be needful for the Scientist to get out of the storm. In the same sense that some people avoid the use of tea and coffee because they do not want to be constantly handling the mortal mind law which pertains to the use of tea and coffee, so may a Scientist refrain from inactivity rather than contend against the law which is incidental thereto.
I conceive it to be in the line of progress to show forth by demonstration a constantly improving human situation, rather than by any form of human deterioration. I once heard a Scientist say that the orchid is the most spiritual flower because it feeds on air. Now there is no spiritual food other than Spirit. Air is no more spiritual than potatoes and it is in the line of progress for a human being who cannot digest his food, because of error, to gain the spiritual insight which enables him to digest food. We are not under the stress of necessity of disparaging nature and the normal things of what is called nature. What we need is not disdain, but dominion.
Spiritual activity does not manifest itself in physical stagnation. I find it desirable to remind you frequently of one thing that you will do well to impress upon yourselves indelibly. It is this: The basis of our practice is the infinite verity that all that is real is already complete and perfect. God, or Mind is complete and perfect. The universe and all therein contained, man, body, law, power, everything is finished and is already immortal. There is no need that God should do anything more and no Christian Scientist is called upon to do anything to any of the things that exist. He does not need to do anything to man or body. What then may he do? What is the limit? What must he do in order to do the best that he can do? He needs only to deny a lie about God, man, body, universe.
The practice of Christian Science is the mental activity which resolves so-called material things into thoughts and discovers that these are simply erring thoughts about that which is true. There is great, very great objection to your giving treatments as though your patients were men and women who are sick or believe they are sick. Metaphysical healing has to do with erring beliefs, not with persons. If you have a woman for a patient, you have a corporeality or material body, and if your treatment has a person or body in it, then it has a body that can be sick. The only treatment that is safe and that is entitled to heal is the one that has no thought or admission except of the one infinite body. You should never discontinue a treatment that does not satisfy reason that you have been handling error or doing something to error rather than to a man or a woman.
A treatment is representative of the character, scope, and correctness of your general understanding. How important then, to declare that the patient is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a suggestion or claim that man is material and is sick. Do not be afraid to leave the belief of a personal patient out of your treatment. In the same way and for the same reason that you would leave out of your treatment the belief of a mental practitioner, who could fight back, you must leave out of the treatment the belief of a man or woman who can be sick. Do not get the notion that you have got some wonderful thing to do which you feel you cannot do. A Christian Science treatment has nothing to do with you because it is simply the utterance of truth concerning God, Life, man, body, substance, presence, law, power and action, and a calm and peaceful announcement that error is unreal and is without substance, law, power or presence. The simpler a treatment, the better. There is no need of a labored treatment. I have heard the statement "She handles error without gloves." "She goes for it hammer and tongs." If error could talk about it, it would probably say: "I do not care a particle for that kind of a treatment. That kind of a treatment means that I am real and must be hammered, and that is all I pretend to be. The only treatment that I am afraid of is the one that makes nothing of me—not enough to hammer. I am afraid of the destructive calm of the one who knows that I am nothing."
A bad habit is that of self depreciation. It poses as a virtue or as humility. It does no good, and assumes that it is worth while to way-lay and denounce oneself. Now Christian Science shows that the right man is just as good as the right God. You are gradually showing forth this man. This man is the only man you are. He is entitled to esteem because he is the son of God. He is good and worthy. This is the man you must stand up for. For this man which is yourself, you must declare every good thing and every good capacity, unlimited opportunity, and ability.
I want to say concerning law that we need very much to learn one great thing, namely,—that in the sense that we are entitled to dominion over all the earth, we are to be a law unto ourselves. Only as we enforce the law in our behalf will it be enforced. We must gain and utter or define the right idea of law. Divine law is included in the Godhead. It is part of the infinity that we are to reflect. Law exists as idea. It is man's business to show forth ideas, to show forth law, to be the utterance and mandate of law. In a certain sense man and law are one. You are to know that you are right. Thought is not only thought, but it is law. Your treatment must know enough to know that it is law—is "the law unto the case," is the law unto yourself.
The idea that your treatment invokes law and that law is aloof from you and apart from you is a mistake. Such a belief deprives your treatment of the enforcement of law. You should declare in treatment, this treatment is the enforcement of the law of harmony and life and perfection. This treatment is the law of extinction to the law of malpractice, et cetera. The sick are made sick through the enforcement of a spurious law. Your treatment, which is the true idea of law, must annul the spurious law and it annuls it by knowing that it annuls it. You must be very particular to include this in your treatments because all healing occurs through the operation of law when expressed in or through your treatment.
Get on the highest pinnacle of respect for Christian Science treatment, for your treatment. It is the manifestation of God. It is God with us—it is the manifestation of Mind which comes to the human mind to redeem and exalt. Regard it as being the word and might of God, rather than as being your treatment. Declare that the only place to meet error is in the realm of thought and that right thought is always victor. Error does not continue itself and cannot. There is no law of a return of old discordant beliefs and no law of reversal. The divine law is the law of perfection, reconstruction, and recovery to what is called human body. All you need to do is to break mentally all pretense of contrary rule or mandate.
In educating a Christian Scientist, one of the first things to do is to get him to comprehend that evil is not a thing, but is belief. Next that the belief is mesmeric in its activity, namely, that it is a belief of mortal mind, that thought transfers itself from one mortal to another. Next that this claim of thought transference asserts for itself influence and power, and in its worst phases has the sting and mischief of malice. Generally the effort thus to persuade the student is so urgent and ornate that the student ends up by being afraid of animal magnetism. The effort to have him see it as a false claim, to be obliterated as nothing, gets just about as far as his belief that it is something, and is some-thing to be afraid of. After that, comes the long drawn out persuasion that he will see that malpractice, which is nothing more than the thought of a mortal, is utterly unreal and valueless, and to see how obviously powerless a lie about anything is, in the presence of the truth about it. A treatment against malpractice is just as good as is the knowledge that the lie in thought, when side by side with the truth, is nothing, and has no presence, power, or action, and has nothing that it can act upon.
I am inclined to think that a treatment against malpractice should more thoroughly include a treatment against the fear of it. This is the important thing. I ask you to notice, namely, that the first thing to break in connection with any claim is the fear in it. You have just as much to consider in the item of fear of malpractice as you have in its own supposed activity and I feel confident that to be unscared about it is the best kind of a treatment. There is no malpractice and never was any. There is no mortal mind to induce it. It is without law, power, or action. It never did anything to any one. Therefore, be not afraid of that which never was anything.
The continuous study of "Science and Health" exalts our appreciation of Science. The book means millions of times more than the text implies on the surface. I need scarcely remind you that it is that which leadeth into all Truth, and that it will perpetually carry us to greater heights of understanding. This book implores you not to declare things concerning yourself that ought not to be and that you really do not want to have wrought out in experience.
I ask you to watch yourselves for one day and see how many times you declare contrary to your welfare and future prosperity and concerning your rights or lack of rights. Get on the right side of the situation with your declarations. Then you will be entitled to win because all things are possible to the right idea. The right idea is the redeemer of consciousness, the Christ which destroys the belief of evil. At last this redeemer has come to the thought of the human being and declares his absolute redemption. This Christ is within you.